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Home >  Information A-ZAll Kids Information Articles Nightmares and Night Terrors

Nightmares and Night Terrors:

Most children have nightmares at one or more points in their life. It may not be a common thing for your child, but one in four children has nightmares on a weekly basis. Since 25% of children are suffering from this, it seems to be something that should be addressed.

What causes nightmares?
There can be a number of things that can cause nightmares for your child. This can be something as simple as a big change in their life, or watching a scary movie. When children have common nightmares, it is often because there was some sort of tragedy such as a car accident, that they are having a hard time dealing with. This isn't always the case, but it is the cause in many situations. When a child experiences an emotional stress or a physical stress in their life, it can take up to six months for them to adjust. This is why they may deal with these issues through their frightening dreams.

What are night terrors?
Night terrors are much different from nightmares in many ways. The dream is usually much scarier, but most times the child won't remember it. Usually, you will know that your child is having a night terror because they will be screaming or crying or both. Their eyes may be wide open but they may not be awake.
If this is the case with your child, you should not try to wake them up or talk to them during this time.

How can you help your child?
There are many ways to help your child deal with nightmares, and to be prepared for when your child has them.

• If your child has frequent nightmares and gets out of bed often when they are scared, it's not a good idea to have them sleep on the top bunk of bunk beds, and you should have their room close to yours, and possibly have a baby monitor to be able to hear them if they wake up upset.

• Provide comfort to your child—you can do this by reassuring them that you are right there and that it is safe to go back to sleep. Stay with them until they settle back down, and if they can't calm down, you can let them sleep with you, or you should stay in their room until they fall back asleep.

• Talk about the dream. This can help in many ways. It will help them get it off their chest, and then you can get them to make up a happy ending for the dream. Then, when they fall back asleep, if they are thinking about it, hopefully the happy ending will stick in their mind instead of the nightmare.

• Limit what your child watches. They may not have even watched a scary movie, but it can still be something that was scary to a small child. Many things that adults don’t even think about, and we just are accustomed to watching, are things that could terrify a small child and even cause them to have nightmares or night terrors.



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